Less Than Zero
Props to Rae Dawn Chong. Just because.
Techno music throbs. Credits scroll across the screen in Random Computer Monitor Font #775. A voice whispers things you can't hear. And what better opening shot could there be for a movie titled Gossip than an overhead pan across desks in a college library, where people are studying intently and pointedly not talking to each other?
A thirty-year-old woman studies at a desk. She flips through the pages of a book, uncovering notes stuck to the pages warning her that she's late. She smiles and rushes out. Back in her room, she gussies herself all up in a vain attempt to hide the fact that she's not really the same age as traditional college students. In fact, when she teases her black hair out and puts on a red mini and stiletto heels, she looks every inch a thirty-three-year-old pop-art-museum habitue.
She heads off to some pretentious underground club full of thirty-somethings posing as twenty-somethings posing as characters from Bright Lights, Big City. This film came out last year, right? Not 1987? I'm casting about for cameos by Bret Easton Ellis and Tama Janowitz here. Hey, look! Poe is performing. Shut up, Poe. The woman slinks up to the bar and joins two male friends, one of whom was responsible for the little notes in her book. Since they seem to be taking their sweet time finding ways to tell us these people's names, I'll just do it myself. The woman's name is Cathy, but everybody calls her by her last name, Jones. One male friend, who looks like a surly British music star, complete with stubble and unwashed hair, is named Travis. The friend who left her the note is Derrick, played by James "Ally McBeal's Next Chew Toy" Marsden. Derrick is an appropriate name for him, as he looks very, very oily. Oil Derrick can't believe that Jones still studies, because he's a spoiled rich brat and Jones isn't. Obviously not, if she can just afford to go to college now that she's thirty. Travis notices a young woman named Rebecca who he thinks is pretty, and Jones encourages him to go talk to her. She expositions that women go for artists and nice guys like Travis, contrary to Oil Derrick's typical man-slut behavior. I think women also go for men who shower and don't look like they're recovering from a three-day bender.
Jones convinces Travis to go talk to Rebecca. She is polite, but standoffish. Back over with Jones and Oil Derrick, the bartender mocks Travis's lack of social graces. Oil Derrick gets an oily little gleam in his eye, then tells the bartender that Travis can't help it. He's the really the son of a famous rock star who ignored him, and he was essentially raised by hotel staff. The bartender thinks Travis's father is Mick Jagger, but Oil Derrick will neither confirm nor deny that. Travis, meanwhile, is getting shot down. He returns to the bar and asks if they want to leave. The bartender, impressed with having the son of a celebrity in the house, gives them a free round of drinks.